Wednesday, 16 April 2014
The Steel Claw
The Steel Claw is one of the great British comic strips, of any era, mostly because of the incredible chiaoscuro art of Spanish genius Jesus Blasco.
The Steel Claw originally appeared in 148 issues of venerable British weekly Valiant, and was Louis Crandell, a lowly lab assistant who'd had his hand replaced, even before the story started, by the titular talon.
When the story starts proper, Crandell gets into ANOTHER accident in the lab, and is electrocuted, causing him to gain the power of invisibility for as long as the charge holds. To become completely invisible, that is, except for his Steel Claw!
Driven insane by his new powers, it's safe to say he doesn't immediately go down the hero route.
For the first serial at least, Crandell is a cowardly psychotic, threatening to blow up New York, and generally behaving like his direct inspiration, H.G.Wells' original Invisible Man.
But the strip became so popular, he just had to become a good guy
( though is still clearly more than a little screwed up, like all the best British comic heroes ) and eventually turns into a secret agent, and then into a sort of superhero.
Actually, even as a kid, as much as I loved this strip, I always had the creeping thought that it probably wasn't the best role model for kids. Never mind getting his powers via electric shock, in order to continue using his powers, he has to get MORE electric shocks!
So Crandell is always climbing up electricity pylons or breaking into power stations to spark himself up. Not the best message for his young fans, methinks...
Anyway, here's the first part of a classic tale from the secret agent days of the strip, where our slightly unsettled hero goes to Wales for a relaxing holiday. And has to fight off an alien invasion.....
It sort of reminds me of an old episode of The Avengers, but without the gags, with creepy goings on in an isolated village. There really should've been a b/w Steel Claw TV show in the late '60's, shouldn't there?
By the way, I've cheekily ended this at a suitably cliffhanging bit, so let me know if you want the second half!